To Save Ukraine, Speaker Johnson must find his inner Charlie Wilson

The film “Charlie Wilson's War,” based on the nonfiction book by George Crile, stars Tom Hanks as Charlie Wilson, a well-connected, hard-drinking, womanizing Democratic congressman from Texas who found the key to defeating the Soviet Union after its invasion. and the occupation of Afghanistan during the Cold War.

As dramatically shown in movie, Wilson visits a huge and squalid Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan and realizes that the Afghan mujahideen are leading the American fight against the Soviet Union. With the help of a beautiful and wealthy Texas woman (Julia Roberts), Charlie appropriates funds to arm the mujahideen with sophisticated weapons, which they use to shoot down Soviet helicopters and explode Soviet tanks.

The Soviet army was forced into a humiliating retreat from Afghanistan, and two years later the Soviet Union collapsed as the Cold War came to an end. This may sound like a Cold War fairy tale, except it actually happened.

If the Ukraine-Israel military aid package clears the Senate, which appears likely, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) will face a difficult choice. He can be Charlie Wilson by allowing the aid package to come to a vote in the House, where he should prevail with his support and keep Ukraine in the fight. Or he can refuse a floor vote, in which case Vladimir Putin could pre-select him for Hero of the Russian Federation.

Withdrawing US military aid will likely give Putin the geopolitical victory of his life. His success conquest of Ukraine would harm key U.S. security interests. As one Republican congressman said: “We cannot allow Vladimir Putin to March across Europe, and we understand the need to help there.

In fact, that's what Johnson himself said a few months ago. He also stressed the need for changes in border policy, but then called the Senate's bipartisan proposal “dead on arrival» even before his arrival and even if Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) rented the proposal as offering “real change” that would reduce illegal border crossings.

Johnson understands what's at stake in Ukraine, but he's obviously afraid of antagonizing Donald Trump and the handful of hardline Republican congressmen who have vowed to make Johnson a former House speaker if he allows a floor vote on aid to Ukraine.

Johnson should sit down and watch “Charlie Wilson's War” or read Crile's book. They tell an inspiring story of how a member of Congress became a legend and changed history.

In the film, after returning from the Afghan refugee camp, Wilson tells a CIA agent (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) that he saw children whose hands were torn off because “they were trying to pick up something brilliant”, which were land mines that the Russians had disguised. as toys. “They rape women, bayonet pregnant women. Charlie Wilson understood the moral and geopolitical issues of Afghanistan.

Little has changed since Wilson's time. Today the Russians are bombing Ukraine maternity neighborhoods, raping Ukrainian women and kidnapping Ukrainian children.

The Soviet Union sought to dominate the world and diminish American power. Russia, under an informal agreement Alliance with China and Iran, seeks the same thing.

The real Charlie Wilson observed that Afghanistan “is the only place in the world where the forces of freedom are killing Russian soldiers.” Democratic Ukraine forces killed or injured 300,000 Russian soldiers without losing a single American soldier.

Here's another way to look at the choice Johnson faces: if he blocks aid to Ukraine and Putin “walks across Europe”, Churchill's prophetic condemnation of the British government's cowardly appeasement towards Nazi Germany in the 1930s could well apply to him. “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You have chosen dishonor and you will have war.

Gregory J. Wallance was a federal prosecutor during the Carter and Reagan administrations and a member of the ABSCAM prosecution team, which convicted a U.S. senator and six representatives of corruption. His book, To Siberia: George Kennan's epic journey through the brutal, frozen heart of Russia, has just been published by St. Martin's Press. Follow at @GregoryWallance.

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